Reasons Why Apologetics is Important in Ministry Today
In this particular article I was asked to choose the three most important reasons for including apologetics in my own personal ministry. The answer is the following post. Originally published on May 13, 2009 and republished for this blog on June 4, 2010. Although it is very important to understand the differences between religions like Jews, Christians, and Muslims (which is what the Coexist campaign seems to be trying to do), it is more important to me as a follower of Christ to understand our own reasons behind what we believe.
The three most important reasons for including apologetics as a part of my ministry, and to me any ministry, are personal truth, cultural relativism, and discipleship. More specifically, apologetics, to my ministry and to me is:
- For personal truth: To know the salvation I seek and trust is the actual Truth. To know why I believe what I believe to be true and not just to believe because I feel It to be true.
- Cultural relativism: To be able to defend the perceived truths of our highly relativistic culture, as we are commanded by scripture, in being able to lead others to a relationship with Christ and to do this through truth in scripture, knowledge, and love, not through a blended Christian worldview of the truth as we know it.
- Discipleship: To eventually be able to disciple, mentor, or lead other Believers to the truth in scripture so as not to be deceived by a cultural blending of Christian truths and worldviews.
For many years after I became a Christian I went through the motions of being a Christian. Not questioning the truth but accepting all known teachings from others as truth without understanding why. Taking a more apathetic approach to the truth of Christian philosophy, I became a lazy Christian believing the truth as truth, but not ever testing or seeking out the truth beyond an emotional basis. Similar to how it is said in No Doubt About It, “He is real to me. …So I cannot doubt His existence, and you don’t need to prove it to me”.
I took God as self-evident, and although no one in more than 15 years as a Christian introduced me to an apologetic view of my faith, I didn’t need one either. Just because I hold God and Jesus as self-evident doesn’t mean everyone else does, and if I don’t have an apologetic understanding of my own faith, how can I effectively explain it to someone else.
It seems our understanding of truth in our culture today is relative. This may be a trend that started in America many centuries ago, but in the age of information everything seems to be on an accelerated course. Our society is constantly bombarded with inaccurate statements, reports, other media and information of all kinds and it seems goes unchecked. Unchecked so much so that one person can look at a door, call it red, another call it blue, and both agree the contradiction is true. Mis-information is bad, but one of Satan’s best weapons is to blend truth and falsities into one and make people believe it to be truth and fact without question.
According to Kinnaman in UnChristian, most outsiders see Christians as too hypocritical, too antihomosexual, too sheltered, too political, too judgmental and most of what the outsiders perceive to be true about Christians is a blending of truth according to what scripture says and truth according to what our culture says is true. For these reasons, apologetics plays an important role in cultural relativism.
To be a disciple of Jesus is something as Believers we all strive towards as we grow and mature in our walk in Christianity. To become a disciple, Jesus poured truth into the original 12 during his ministry so they could in turn do the same to others when Jesus was physically absent. At any point in a Believers life they will be pouring into some other Believer, or will be poured into by a Believer, or possibly both at the same time. To achieve this we can and should follow the example Jesus gave during his ministry on earth and be ready to learn, and teach apologetically when called.
 David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Unchristian : what a new generation really thinks about Christianity... and why it matters, 1st Edition (Baker Books, 2007).